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Dennis Gaudet was fishing at 12; he still loves the industry nearly 57 years later

Dennis Gaudet is congratulated by members of the Tignish Fisher Awards committee, the group that nominated him for induction into the Atlantic Canada Marine Industries Hall of Fame. From left are Tina Richard, Ruby Arsenault, Gaudet and Paulette Arsenault
Dennis Gaudet is congratulated by members of the Tignish Fisher Awards committee, the group that nominated him for induction into the Atlantic Canada Marine Industries Hall of Fame. From left are Tina Richard, Ruby Arsenault, Gaudet and Paulette Arsenault - Contributed

Retirement not in plans for Atlantic Canada Marine Industries Hall of Fame fisherman

TIGNISH, P.E.I. —

At a glance
Two other people were inducted into the Hall of Fame with Dennis Gaudet, Rodolphe. They include (Rudy) LeBreton from Neguac, N.B., in the processor category and Laurence Cook from Grand Manan, N.B., as a builder.


TIGNISH –  Don’t even suggest to Tignish fisherman Dennis Gaudet that the approximately 57 years he has logged so far in the fishing industry is a long time.
“Well, it doesn’t seem to be because it just went by like a flash,” said the 68-year-old St. Felix resident.
“I don’t know if saltwater’s in my blood or what, but I just can’t wait to get in the boat. The winter’s awful long, I find.”
Gaudet’s love of fishing and his reputation of offering advice to fellow fishermen and helping them to solve problems with their boats and gear, has earned him an induction into the Atlantic Canada Marine Industries Hall of Fame. 
The induction took place Jan. 24 during the Fish Canada Trade Show in Moncton. It follows his selection last March as Tignish’s Fishing Boat Captain of the Year. The Tignish Fishermen’s Gala committee nominated him for the Marine Industries Hall of Fame. 
Several fishing friends and community members were in attendance for the special ceremony.
“His peers really appreciate him, as we do as community members,” said Tina Richard, a member of the Tignish awards committee, who was impressed with how many people personally reached out to him to congratulate him and renew acquaintances. 

It's a three-generation lobster setting day with Captain Dennis Gaudet, right, his son and first mate, Jamie, and grandson Cole. Angela Gaudet photo
It's a three-generation lobster setting day with Captain Dennis Gaudet, right, his son and first mate, Jamie, and grandson Cole. Angela Gaudet photo

“It was neat to see some of the fishers there to support Dennis.”
Shortly after receiving his award, Gaudet took some time to reflect on a fondness for fishing that started when he was around 12 years old. 
“I remember being down at North Cape, fishing out of a shanty shack and our boats were on the beach. We had to take a dory out to go fishing.” 
That’s back when a big boat was around 35 feet in length.
He also remembers when a limit of 600 lobster traps was imposed in 1967. His father, Nelson, had just purchased a brand new 45-foot Hutt boat and was planning on setting 900 traps. Nelson had already arranged for Gaudet and one of Nelson’s brothers to fish with him for the season.
The trap limit was subsequently reduced to 500, then 400 and later to 300.
Gaudet recalls there were a lot of upset people when the limits were imposed, but he is confident such limits are what enabled the industry to grow to what it is today.
“Back then, there was a lot of fishing at night, poaching. Everybody and their dog were at it.” 
Looking back, Gaudet thinks a lobster license in the 1960s could be obtained for as little as $5. 
Even in the lean years, Gaudet said he enjoyed fishing.

Dennis Gaudet, at the end of a fishing day. Angela Gaudet photo
Dennis Gaudet, at the end of a fishing day. Angela Gaudet photo

He comes from a family of 13. There were seven sons and six of them became fishermen. Five of them still fish. A sixth, Laurie, died in a fishing boat accident nearly 24 years ago.
Gaudet said there are inherent dangers in being a fisherman and said it’s best not to panic. Sometimes, the wind is blowing 25, 30 knots.
“You’re being tossed around. You’re not panicking, but you’re always watching for everything. You’re on the edge, eh?”
Although he has been fighting some health issues recently, Gaudet said he plans to continue fishing for as long as “the fellow upstairs” lets him.
His son, Jamie, fishes with him. “I told him, ‘You can have my lobster license when I’m 72 and you can have my tuna license when I’m 82.’”
He’s just not sure he’ll be ready to pack it in from lobster fishing that soon. 
“It is a good way of life and, as long as you don’t panic too much - you’re your own boss and you can put in anywhere from seven hours a day to 15, 16 hours a day.”
With all his time fishing, Gaudet has also picked up a few extra skills.
"I used to know a little bit about electronics, hydraulics and a little bit about motors and stuff like that. I used to dabble with it to kind of fix my own stuff and fix other people’s stuff,” he said. “I’d never see anybody stuck.” 
However, he said a lot of fishermen do that. 
“I must’ve stuck out in somebody’s mind or something.”
While lobster and tuna are at the top of his list of fishing activities, Gaudet said he likes fishing most species. He’s just not so fond of night fishing for herring with so many spotlights bobbing around.
“Maybe if I’d started younger,” he said.

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